India is still in nascent stages of Data boom with consumers having good access to 2G and 3G networks and selectively to 4G as well. Let us see what is the state of Mobile Data in other Asian countries.
Indonesia – Like India the focus is on upgrading from 2G to 3G. Mobile data tariffs are relatively high at US$7-10/GB (versus the US$3-4 ARPU) for entry-level plans. Re-pricing of data tariffs could be a slow process and driven by the telcos network capacity. Mobile data revenue has been largely due to the 2G/2.5G handsets-driven internet usage. Smartphone penetration is reasonably low at ~12%, but expected to reach 15% by 2013 and 24% by 2015. Availability of US$50 smartphones could be a key factor in driving the take-up rates and in turn data usage.
On the network side, 2G to 3G mobile technology upgrade is the key focus for most telcos, although the pace of upgrade varies, the regulator plans to auction another two bands of 3G spectrum and Network sharing is yet to take off in a big way.
Malaysia – Like Japan, Malaysian market is racing ahead of its neighbors. The Telcos are focused on 3G to 4G Upgrade and pricing of the same. Mobile data tariffs are reasonable at US$7/GB for entry-level data plans versus US$16 average ARPU. Mobile data revenue has grown strongly without much cannibalization of Voice / SMS. Malaysia’s smartphone penetration is reasonable, at 25%, and is estimated to reach 30% by 2013 and 40% by 2015.
The top-three telcos have more than 90% 2G coverage and reasonable coverage on 3G network. The telcos’ recent focus has been on
improving their network access (including equipment swap-outs), backhaul, and transmission. The visibility on spectrum has been high in terms of timing and pricing (largely non-issue). This was the case for the recently allocated 4G/LTE licenses.
Philippines – Mobile data tariffs are relatively expensive at US$40/GB for entry level plans versus a US$3 average ARPU. The mobile internet plans are also expensive at US$12/GB. The growth in data is partly constrained by network capacity, which started undergoing modernization in 2012. Philippines’ smartphone penetration is estimated to reach 19% by 2013 and 28% by 2015.
Telcos are Tied to a heavy dependence on SMS revenue and thus the risk of data-growth cannibalizing the legacy revenue streams remains high on them.
Singapore – All the three telcos already have pan-island 3G coverage. M1 and SingTel have taken a lead on 4G coverage, followed closely by StarHub. Entry level Mobile Data Plans are priced US$12-15/GB appears reasonable compared to Singapore’s US$38 average mobile ARPU. Telcos have also moved towards tiered plans, which should help in better aligning data usage with revenue.
Telcos have established fairly good network coverage and there is potential for the usage of mobile-to-fixed traffic offloading options such as WiFi and femto cells.
Thailand – 3G Licenses were awarded just 6 months ago in 2.1 GHz. With larger 2.1GHz network coverage and higher transmission speed, we believe there is plenty of room for growth in data revenue. There is Potential for a 4G spectrum auction exists in the near-term.
Thai telcos’ entry-level data pricing of nearly US$10 (for smartphones) to US$11 (for tablets) is higher than the average ARPU of US$8. However, the differential is relatively low versus some of the other emerging markets. Non-voice revenue (including SMS) accounts for only 23% of total service revenue in Thailand.
Like Larry Page said in Google I/O 2013, Data is the way to go and the fall in SmartPhone pricing decides the rate of adoption and Growth